What value is there in learning Seamanship

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Life. We seem to be in a constant battle with ourselves to go faster. Some (most) of us have succumbed to the “MAD” doctrine, not the “Mutually Assured Destruction” doctrine of Cold War jargon, but the “Must-have Attached Devices” of cell phones, digital cameras, embedded Gps devices, the list goes on. When we go for a trip we set the Navi to take us, when we venture into nature we bring our cell phone so that we can document and immediately share our “getting away!”, some even record their television shows so that after a long day they can watch what they missed. Given the content of 99% of programming available I am pretty sure that “missed” is certainly not what would happen without recording.

There is a better way.

One of the fascinating aspects of learning seamanship is the reliance on non-technical solutions to challenges. The fact is that proper seamanship means using your brains and knowledge to answer whatever nature and the sea presents. At it’s best seamanship allows one to survive and thrive in environments that are not inherently safe for us frail humans. It teaches us more about ourselves and what we can accomplish. Also, working together with crewmembers allows us to enhance our understanding and appreciation of others.

The term “seamanship” means many things to many people. Developing your concept can and will take a lifetime but it is a lifetime well spent.

 

Fears!

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We all have fear. Fear is the physiological reaction to being catapulted out of our comfort zone. Fear has been ingrained into the human mind since the beginning of our race. The cave dwellers had a fear of large clawed and toothed animals, come to think of it, so do I! Medieval folks were fearful of “unexplained” phenomenon. We, in the 21 century have had most of those phenomenon, and most of the “large clawed and toothed” animals eradicated from our everyday lives. But, we still have fears. Fear for our childrens safety, fear for the health of loved ones, fear of losing our jobs (for those with jobs, but then, we are not talking about me). These are normal fears that are an everyday part of modern society.

“A Fear of Sailing”

For many people sailing a boat is a special activity that helps to bring them closer to nature or cope with everyday stresses.”Sailing is the closest I can get to nature – it’s adrenaline, fear, a constant challenge and learning experience, an adventure into the unknown. And of course there is nothing better than wearing the same T-shirt for days and not brushing my hair for weeks.Daria Werbowy

But for many sailing is something that causes fear, the pulse can race just imagining stepping onto a sailboat let alone going out and putting up the sails. And then there is that “tilting” thing. What is that all about?

And for many couples (and parents with sailing offspring) there is a strain if one of the partners has a passion for sailing and the other has some fears. Many spouses are willing to “go along” with the sailing but never get comfortable on the boat. Some are unable to overcome their discomfort meaning their spouse/partner must make the choice to indulge in the sport without or forgo sailing altogether.

There is a better way!

Do you remember when you learned to drive a car. At first it all seemed overwhelming but after some lessons, with an instructor you trusted, it all became second nature. You no longer “think” about steering the car and shifting the gears you just do. Learning to sail and becoming comfortable on a boat is the same. You can overcome your fears, or at least learn to channel the benefits of your fear and enjoy the natural beauty and learn from sailing. As George Adams said; “Sailing a boat calls for quick action, a blending of feeling with the wind and water as well as with the very heart and soul of the boat itself. Sailing teaches alertness and courage, and gives in return a joyousness and peace that but few sports afford.

 

One of the best ways to move forward is to get acquainted with sailing and a sailing boat. What is (slightly) humorous is the way sailing is usually taught today. Most new sailors start in small boats that have a tendency to be less stable, they “tip” more, and they require fast reactions and of course the new sailor can be overwhelmed. If you start sailing in a large boat the vessel is much more stable and needed reaction times are much slower. Plus, a larger boat is much more forgiving when it comes to mistakes, Make an incorrect decision on a dingy and you may go swimming, on a larger boat you may come to a stop but that is just fine. Also, when on a larger sailboat you bring your accommodations with. The creature comforts must be seen and experienced to truly appreciate. With a little forethought from the Skipper a new sailor can learn the basics of boat handling in a few hours. In a weeks’ time a newcomer will be able to handle a large sailboat in most situations. This is not to say a beginner can take the boat into a dock but most other situations are easily mastered. Also, to learn basic sail handling skills takes a few days; to become a “sailor” takes a lifetime! And at some point in the road to becoming a sailor one must master the rudiments of small boats.

I treat all the newcomers (and a lot of “experienced” sailors) who are on the boat and want to learn to sail in the same way. Whether you are fearless (not necessarily conducive to good learning), have a skeptical appreciation, or are downright “Scared!” my approach is the same. I do the following when you come aboard;

  • Spend some time getting acquainted with the interior of the boat including the accommodations, the kitchen (Galley), and the bathrooms (Head)
  • Spend a short time explaining the working of the exterior (deck) of the boat
  • Spend a very short time explaining how the rig and sails work, you don’t need to know “what do all those ropes do” that is my job
  • Give a safety briefing so that you will know what not to do to stay safe
  • Talk about what is to be accomplished and where we might go
  • Spend time getting to know each other in this “new” environment, usually over food and drink

 

Then you can relax (remember that is what you are here for) and I will take the boat out of the harbor. Then we spend a few hours together learning how to steer the boat under motor in open water;

  • I will show you how to maneuver and then it is your turn (don’t worry, I will sit by you the whole time, helping)
  • You will practice bringing the boat to a buoy under motor (a very soft buoy)

 

Then we will go sailing, you can watch, or participate, depending on your comfort zone. I am very capable and willing to sail the boat by myself. After a few hours, or days, depending on you, you will be able to comfortably sail the boat.

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” ― Maya Angelou

“Leadership Through Seamanship” Youth Camp

“Leadership Through Seamanship” Youth Camp
After 5 days of intense training we ended the week with very tired but extremely satisfied participants. All six “Young Leaders” who were involved in the training week were highly motivated and eager to work hard to expand their capabilities. I, as the captain of the sailing vessel, am impressed with their willingness to work hard to learn the lessons and concepts of the program.
I hope to see some comments from the group from last week about the program “Leaders Through Seamanship” Youth Camp.

Kids and sailing

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Sailing can be a great family adventure! Despite the many concerns of parents, boredom and safety being chief among them, sailing can provided cherished memories to families. Children from 5-75 …ok a few older children too, can enjoy a sailing adventure that gives them a new perspective and new skills.

Safety and well-being of kids while sailing.

Parents are surprised that the one thing that they don’t hear from their kids during their time afloat is “I’m bored”. There are too many fun activities possible during a sailing day! Swimming and snorkelling are regular activities of the day. It is amazing how often a kid or group of kids can simply jump off an anchored boat into the water, climb the ladder back on board, only to repeat the whole exercise. And rowing the dinghy back and forth to a deserted beach, well, parents can get worn out just watching.

As for safety, young sailors will wear life jackets when sailing. If needed, all those on board can wear life jackets when sailing to help kids feel better. This is something the parents and I will work out before we go sailing. The boat can be equipped with nets surrounding the deck attached to the lifelines. If you have young children I recommend these nets to help you feel more confidence. This allows kids to run around the boat at anchor without fear of falling into the water. The cockpit is big enough and secure enough to allow a parent to feel confident about their children’s well being underway.

Gaining confidence.

Most children, of whatever age, want to get involved while on board. Learning to set the sails, taking the helm, pulling up the anchor or “driving” boat under motor or even learning how to sail the boat will build confidence. Kids of any age can do all these things and with your approval I will show your children to safely get involved to their level of ability. Even the youngest quickly learn to be a useful member of the crew. Imagine your child’s pride when he tells his classmate about sailing the boat from one anchorage to another. And with “picture” to prove it!

If you would like to purchase a fishing permit for your trip we can get the fishing lines out during our sails and we can try to catch lunch or supper. In the anchorage at dusk we can try squid jigging rigs for night-time adventures. Fresh stuffed squid grilled in the oven is wonderful.

For the older or more active there are plenty of opportunities for hiking, hiring bikes or kayaks to explore a new Island on foot. Scuba diving, water-skiing or windsurfing can be included in the itinerary if requested.

Those older kids looking for a little nightlife will find plenty and you can arrange for us to be in places that provide some nightlife… or not! Also if you want an evening out babysitting can be arranged.

Parents and to some degree all sailors need to be aware of the special environment on the sea . The weather will be hot the breeze blowing, so active kids need sunburn and heat stroke protection. Sun screen, hats and limited exposure to the sun combined with drinking sufficient water are sensible preventative measures. There is plenty of shade on board and unlimited drinking water.

We have children’s life jackets available in most sizes and the yacht has many safety feature designed for sailing with smaller crew members. Including: Wide decks and lifelines, enclosed cockpit area with gate to swim deck, safe seating in the cockpit.

Food in Croatia: The number of children who start the week saying they don’t like fish and end the week ordering squid , mussels and the local Brodetia is astonishing,  there is always a Pizza or pasta option but younger children usually enjoy the BBQ meats and fish. Croatian restaurants welcome children and are normally happy to serve a child’s portion or allow children to share a full-sized dish. Ice cream and pancakes remain a favourite for desert.